Church Conflict Management is Specialized Ministry
It is almost impossible to manage strong conflict from the inside. No matter what your position, tenure, or prestige, insiders are always suspected of taking sides. If you are the pastor, you are automatically suspected by most of harboring one position or another, and the moment you do take sides you have lost everyone in the opposition. If the conflict escalates, you become the target. More than 70 percent of all pastors will resign at least once as the result of church conflict.
Second, it is impossible to keep your emotional reactions from influencing your thinking and actions. You have a vested interest in the outcome, and everyone knows it. You cannot be a true neutral while defending your own positions.
Third, it is extremely difficult to see your contribution to the problem. You may have had the best of intentions, but intentions rarely count.
Finally, you are not trained in conflict management. Effective conflict interventionists have years of training and experience. It's what we do and who we are.
Why Church Fights Are So Damaging!
First, we ignore the conflict, hoping it will go away. It doesn't.
Then we try to placate each other. It doesn't work.
Then it spirals out of control and it is too late!
Pastors and lay leaders rarely are trained in conflict management, intervention, or mediation skills. We also have a culture of faking all is well when everything is going wrong, which leads us to hide from the growing fight.
Avoiding it makes it worse.
When it turns from issues to people, it quickly becomes personal - and vicious, and the negative effects can last for decades - if the church survives.